Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity makes 2nd non-powered glide test.
Credit: Virgin Galactic

 

“Release…release…release.”

Those are the words heard as the second glide flight of Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity began yesterday, released from the WhiteKnightTwo mothership.

The December 22 drop test took place high above California’s Mojave Air and Space Port – the second free-flying shakeout of the suborbital spaceship.

2nd drop test

The craft’s first unpowered glide flight occurred on December 3, marking the start of a series of test flights for the SpaceShipTwo.

Piloting the vehicle down to a smooth tarmac touchdown: Virgin Galactic’s Mark Stucky and Dave Mackay – the same twosome that flew the December 3rd drop test.

Data review

From George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic CEO:

“Second glide flight of VSS Unity completed. Well done to the pilots and the whole crew. Great way to end the year!”

“Next up…data review and holidays,” explains a Virgin Galactic twitter.

These glide flights are the first of many, to gather test flight data on how VSS Unity performs in a wide variety of real-world flight conditions. Future flights will involve the critical rocket powered phase of the test flight program. The goal of Virgin Galactic is to create a commercial, suborbital passenger-carrying business.

The first SpaceShipTwo, VSS Enterprise, flew 54 times prior to its test flight accident in October 2014. That mid-air mishap led to loss of life of the craft’s co-pilot, seriously injuring the other pilot.

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